Listen to this article:
New Delhi: Amidst a shortage of judges in nearly all courts in the country, over 4.70 crore cases are pending in various courts, including 70,154 in the Supreme Court, the Lok Sabha was informed by the government.
Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Jharkhand’s Lohardaga, Sudarshan Bhagat had asked a three-part question on: whether there is acute shortage of judges in all the courts of the country, the state-wise details of shortage, and if there is no shortage, the number of cases in the country lying pending due to delay in hearings of cases by judges.
In a written reply, Union law minister Kiren Rijiju said 4,10,47,976 cases are pending in the various district and subordinate courts.
The total number of cases pending in the 25 high courts stood at 58,94,060 as on March 21 this year. The pendency in the apex court was recorded on March 2 this year.
The figures from Arunachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands were not available on the National Judicial Data Grid, the reply noted.
“The total number of pending cases comes to 4,70,12,190,” Rijiju said.
When it comes to vacancies in judges’ positions, the high courts serving India’s more populated states have the most number of vacancies. Allahabad high court has 67 vacancies among permanent and additional posts, the highest among high courts. It is followed by Bombay (36), Punjab and Haryana (36), Calcutta (33), Patna (28) and Delhi (27). High courts which have 0 vacancies are Sikkim and Tripura. Manipur and Gauhati each have one vacancy.
The government’s state-wise breakdown of judges’ shortages corresponds to the situations in the high courts, with larger states having more sanctioned posts. Uttar Pradesh has the most vacancies (1,106) and is followed by Bihar (569), Madhya Pradesh (476), Gujarat (347) and Haryana (295).
Disposal of pending cases in courts is within the domain of the judiciary, Rijiju said, adding that no time frame has been prescribed for disposal of various kinds of cases by the respective courts.
“Timely disposal of cases in courts depends on several factors which, inter-alia, include availability of adequate number of judges and judicial officers, supporting court staff and physical infrastructure, complexity of facts involved, nature of evidence, co-operation of stakeholders – the Bar, investigation agencies, witnesses and litigants – and proper application of rules and procedures,” he said.
There are several factors which may lead to delay in disposal of cases. These include vacancies of judges, frequent adjournments and lack of adequate arrangement to monitor, track and bunch cases for hearing, the minister observed.